Those that know me best know that I often struggle with myself. I have a constant itch to improve, which is both my greatest strength and my biggest weakness. Lately, I’ve struggled with my weight – despite never having been told that I’m at all unhealthy, the negative voice in my head tells me my stomach is too soft, my thighs too jiggly, my butt too big and still somehow not big enough. (My body image struggle is not always particularly rational.)
I wish I could point to one thing or another and say, “Yes! That’s the culprit.” But this, like most things, has been brought on by numerous circumstances: being close to people who fixate on the way bodies look instead of what they can do, limited time to devote to physical wellness, and living far away from many of the people who help me feel best about myself and my place in the world.
These factors all created a perfect storm that gave me the idea, the ammunition, and the time to tear myself down – no matter how many times I’m told that I’m beautiful, one-of-a-kind, completely irreplaceable, and more than good enough for the people I love. The negative voice in my head – the one we all battle – gains strength, shouting instead of whispering, blocking me from reaching the self-love and self-acceptance I so desperately crave.
But I’m having a moment of clarity. It’s very brief and is already fading away, but I’m trying to write it down in the hopes of lending this new voice credence, of encouraging it to speak up more often over the negative voice.
I know there are other women out there who are more conventionally beautiful. There are women out there with what others consider “better” proportions. There are definitely women who don’t have three chicken pox scars on their forehead or an asymmetrical jaw.
But deciding that my body is gross and terrible doesn’t erase that from existence. It doesn’t mean that the other women who the world has decided are “better” (read: supposedly more appealing to a straight male gaze) are going to suddenly stop being flawless. And they shouldn’t. They’re absolutely stunning, and so am I.
Instead, I should remind myself of the stuff that I have that is uniquely mine. I have beautiful hands that build more often than they destroy, that heal instead of hurt. I have an awesome tattoo that reminds me of the bond between mother and daughter. I have a way of putting other people at ease and making them laugh, even when I first meet them. I have a strength and grace that comes only from dealing with adversity and coming out on top. I have a smile that brightens a room and eyes that see the good in people. I have curls that are every bit as wild as my soul. I have a weak ankle from dancing too hard with my best friend, and I have an incredibly good heart.
These are the things that nobody can take from me, and these are the things I promise to remind myself of when I scroll through Instagram or Facebook, confronted by perfect bodies, flawless skin, and hair that seems to always be in place. These are the things I promise to think of when I spiral into feeling undesirable and unlovable; it’s my hope that you’ll do the same.
Marvel at the way your eyes crinkle when you smile, or how wildly you gesture when you’re excited about something. Those are the things that make you so mind-bendingly beautiful to the people who know you. It’s not so much about having your eyebrows perfectly arched or the longest eyelashes or the perfect red lipstick, and so much more about having goals in your mind and radical love in your heart.
While I technically don’t check all the boxes of conventional beauty standards, I still try to check all the boxes of my own standards – in both beauty and character. I am learning to eat better and drink more water every day. I try to go for long walks after work to make sure I sleep well at night. I’m making progress in a million tiny ways, some of which I probably don’t even notice. I’m working on my relationship with my body – and for all I know, so are the women I envied.
But I promise to myself that I’m going to make some progress every day. I’m going to change up who I’m following on social media from fitness models to people who don’t get paid to look great, to people who look more like the people I know in real life. I’m going to stop thinking of my tummy as too soft, of my butt as weird, and my thighs as too jiggly. They’re parts of me, and they are wonderful because I am wonderful. And so are you.
Miranda Huber is a recent graduate from Elmhurst College working to save money for even more school. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and talking to animals. Her interests include politics, pizza, and feminism.
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